A lot of people are unable to distinguish between a will and a living will. The two are very important documents but they are not the same. They need to be properly understood and accurately applied when the need arises.
While a typical will allows you to provide instructions on what should be done with your estate when you pass on, a living will allows you to provide directives on the medical care you should receive in the event that you cannot communicate your own wishes. In order be valid, this has to align with the laws of the state in which you reside.
For a better understanding of living wills, the following post describes what they are and how they differ from other medical documents:
Living wills and advance directives for medical decisions
Living wills and other advance directives are written, legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance directives guide choices for doctors and caregivers if you’re terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.
By planning ahead, you can get the medical care you want, avoid unnecessary suffering and relieve caregivers of decision-making burdens during moments of crisis or grief. You also help reduce confusion or disagreement about the choices you would want people to make on your behalf. Read more at KXLY…
As the post above describes, a living will can spare your loved ones a great deal of turmoil when your health condition is critical and it is difficult to make decisions on your behalf. It gives them license to make extremely tough decisions with peace or mind, knowing they are what you wanted.
Here’s another informative article that outlines how you and your loved ones can benefit from an advance health directive.
What is the importance of an advance directive?
Advance directives were developed as a result of widespread concerns over patients undergoing unwanted medical treatments and procedures in effort to preserve life at any cost. As outlined in the following section (history of advance directives), remarkable efforts were made to institute advance medical directives as a component of medical care in the United States over the last few decades.
From a practical standpoint, medical directives and living wills facilitate a person’s medical care and decision making in situations when they are temporarily or permanently unable to make decisions or verbalize their decisions. By having previously documented personal wishes and preferences, the family’s and physicians’ immense decision-making burden is lightened. At the same time, patient autonomy and dignity are preserved by tailoring medical care based on one’s own choices regardless of mental or physical capacity. Read more at MedicineNet…
Tragic circumstances occur in life and the battle to preserve life can be long, arduous and extremely costly, sometimes causing more harm than good for both the patient and the family they leave behind. A living will lifts this burden off everyone’s shoulders because you get to make your decisions now with a clear mind.
There are legal requirements that need to be fulfilled if a living will is to be considered valid in North Carolina. The following post will examine them more fully, while also explaining the difference between a living will and a healthcare power of attorney.
Living Wills: State Laws
A living will, also known in some states as a health care directive or directive to physicians, is a document that allows you to state your wishes for end-of-life medical care. This is done in case you become unable to communicate your own health care decisions. A durable power of attorney, on the other hand, is another type of medical care directive. It is a document that allows you to name a person to oversee your medical care and make health care decisions for you if you ever become unable to do so.
Every state has different laws and requirements for properly executing an end-of-life or medical care document. Below, you will find a list of the living wills laws for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Read more at FindLaw…
As you’ve just read, in North Carolina, two witnesses and a public notary are required to sign the living will to make it valid. It is also not applicable if the person making it is pregnant. There are other legal considerations as well. To ensure that your living will is valid, it’s best to have it drawn up by an attorney who is experienced in this area of the law.
Contact Meek Law Firm today to discuss your need for a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney. Jonathan Meek has assisted many people with these important legal matters and he can help you as well. Call (704) 848-6335 or use the contact form on the right of this page to schedule a consultation appointment. We look forward to hearing from you.